Valley tow truck operator facing criminal charges - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

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Valley tow truck operator facing criminal charges

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

A Valley tow truck operator is accused of breaking the law in order to divert business from a competitor.

The Mahoning County Grand Jury indicted 26-year-old Alex C. Bugno of Poland, on charges of disrupting public services and identity fraud.

Bugno, who operates Bugno's Towing, allegedly called Verizon Wireless last September posing as a representative of Ludt's towing.  Prosecutors say Bugno told the mobile phone company that he no longer needed his phone, and asked that it be shut off.

Investigators say Bugno made the call on a weekend when Ludt's was next on the rotation list to answer towing calls from the Youngstown Police department.

Bugno's has offices on Indianola Avenue in Youngstown. Ludt's operates from McClurg Road in Boardman.

Youngstown police have towing companies on a rotating schedule, so the towing calls are evenly distributed. A spokesman for Bugno's tells 21 News that Bugno's is not on that rotation.

Bugno's Towing was last in the news in July when Youngstown police and agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation searched Bugno's main office, a storage facility owned by Bugno's at 535 North Garland Avenue, and a home at 235 Clingan Road owned by Christopher and Elizabeth Bugno.

According to an affidavit signed by BCI Special Agent Ed Carlini, two juvenile males claim that an employee of the towing company paid them between $200 and $500 each on several occasions to let him perform a sex act on the two boys. The boys claim other juveniles also took part, and the alleged acts took place at all three locations.

The boys tell investigators that many times, the man would have them take a white pill before asking them to undress. They also say that the man would record videos of the sex acts, and either live stream or post them on the internet.

Police say phones belonging to the boys contained text messages indicating that the man owed them money. The phones also contained pictures large quantities of U.S. currency in the same denominations described as being paid to the boys.

According to the search warrants, on June 20, the suspect performed a sex act on both boys, but couldn't pay them right away. The boys tell police that later that night, they went to Bugno's towing with BB guns, and shot out vehicle windows. One of the text messages from the suspect found on the boys phone made reference to the car vandalism.

Police confiscated dozens of items from the three locations, including cameras, computers, cell phones, digital storage devices and pill bottles. They also took a couch cushion from the main office of the towing company. One of the juveniles told police that he may have left semen on the couch during one of the alleged encounters.

The investigation began in June when a Youngstown man claimed that an employee of the towing company had been paying his sixteen year son to perform sex acts on the boy.

Authorities say that the investigation centers on allegations of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning, compelling prostitution, disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor, corrupting another person with drugs, and permitting drug abuse.

Although the search warrants display the name of the suspect, wfmj.com is not publishing the name since no charges have been filed in the case.

A statement from the Ohio Attorney General characterizes the probe as a joint investigation involving it's Crimes Against Children Unit, the Cyber Crimes Unit and the Youngstown Police Department.

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